Canada’s latest blockade? It’s at the end of B.C. Premier John Horgan’s driveway | National Post

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EDMONTON — As the sun rose on budget day in British Columbia, a cadre of activists visited the home of Premier John Horgan, who lives on a quiet dead-end street in Victoria’s suburbs.

Around a dozen Extinction Rebellion sorts — videos posted on social media showed some middle-aged climate activists — one sporting muttonchops that would put a Civil War general to shame — had set out to block the premier’s driveway. Earlier, Extinction Rebellion’s Vancouver Island chapter said they wanted a “citizen’s arrest” that would disrupt the provincial budget.

There were arrests. Just not by civilians.

At least two protesters who were lying down on Horgan’s driveway were cuffed by the RCMP. Horgan wasn’t at home when the demonstrators showed up, though he came back and, according to one of the activists, lost his temper and cussed them out.

“He was very angry and he swore at us,” said protester Heidi Eisenhuth. “That’s what we’re looking for — him, to understand how it feels.”

“He was really angry and he swore at us,” says protester Heidi Eisenhuth about John Horgan’s reaction. #Wetsuweten

— Aaron Guillen (@iaaronguillen)

The small protest, featuring “stop fracking” signage and expressing solidarity with Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs who oppose a natural gas pipeline in B.C., came hours before the NDP government was to introduce the 2020 budget at the provincial legislature in Victoria. The legislature building was the site of a protest on Tuesday with hundreds of people, though these were mostly forestry workers, not the same people who have been protesting in the B.C. capital for the past week.

The B.C. drama earlier that morning at Horgan’s private residence came hours after Swedish teen activist Greta Thunberg tweeted that she stood with the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs.

On Tuesday, federal politicians spoke out on rail blockades that have seized train traffic in parts of the country. Carolyn Bennett, the federal Liberal minister of Crown-Indigenous relations, says a meeting with B.C. First Nations leaders had been proposed at the end of the month, but she would like to meet as soon as possible to discuss a peaceful resolution to the conflict.

The Wet’suwet’en hereditary clan chiefs have been silent about whether they are open to a joint meeting with Bennett and B.C. Indigenous Relations Minister Scott Fraser. The meeting was proposed by a hereditary chief with the neighbouring Gitxsan First Nation, and Wet’suwet’en chief Na’moks said on Sunday they would participate as witnesses.

It marks another day in the protests that have spread across the country.  In Ottawa, Conservative leader Andrew Scheer slammed protesters who have marched in streets across the country, and described them as “skipping class” and accused them of “appropriating an Indigenous agenda.”

“The prime minister’s elevation of these protesters to the same level as the thousands of men and women in First Nation communities across our country who have in good faith been trying to right the wrongs of Canadian history does a disservice to the spirit of reconciliation,” Scheer declared.

Randy Haluza-DeLay, a sociology professor at The King’s University in Edmonton, said that the point of any social movement is to get messages out quickly, in a way that fits on a sign. “There’s a total risk that the public will not understand, but that’s the way that any kind of public debate goes on,” Haluza-Delay said.

At the heart of the dispute is the 670-kilometre route of the Coastal GasLink natural gas pipeline, a $6.6-billion project from Dawson Creek, B.C., to Kitimat, B.C. Along the route, five out of six of the Wet’suwet’en reserve bands have signed agreements with the company, a subsidiary of TC Energy. But part of the route runs across what the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs consider to be their traditional territory, over which they believe they — not Canada nor the elected councils — have jurisdiction. Ten of the 13 hereditary chiefs have rejected the pipeline.

When police enforced a court order against some of the hereditary chiefs and their supporters along a remote forestry road in the B.C. interior, it sparked the solidarity rail blockades around the country. One, near Belleville, Ont., has shut down most of the Canadian National Railway network in eastern Canada, including Via Rail passenger service.

— With files from The Canadian Press and the Vancouver Sun.

This content was originally published here.

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